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12 Things Repealing DOMA Would Change

Striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, on which the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments, could change more than 1,000 laws affecting 9 million Americans.

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1. Nearly 9 million LGBT Americans could one day have federally recognized marriages.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Not all states allow gay marriage, and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act won't change that. But couples who marry in those states that do would have their marriages recognized by the federal government if DOMA were struck down.

2. That includes about 110,000 couples raising children.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Above, Jo-ann Shain (right) and Mary Jo Kennedy (second from right) with Shain's daughter, Aliya Shain, 24, and her girlfriend, all outside the Supreme Court.

3. About 112,770 already married same-sex couples could have their marriages recognized by the federal government.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

In the states that do allow same-sex marriages, couples still don't have all the protections of federally recognized marriage. If DOMA is repealed, that would change.


4. Half of those would receive better Social Security benefits in the event of one partner's death.

Beck Diefenbach / Reuters

Under DOMA, same-sex marriages aren't recognized for the purpose of Social Security. If they were, half of married LGBT Americans would get higher benefits if one partner dies than they currently do.


9. 36,000 couples where one partner is a non-citizen could petition for immigration benefits for that partner.

Curtis Tate/MCT

DOMA bars same-sex couples, like Brian Andersen (left) and Anton Tanumihardja, from doing so.

12. And more than 1,000 other laws involving marriage could change to include LGBT couples.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

In 2004, the U.S. General Accounting Office identified 1,138 federal statutes "in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges." Repealing DOMA would potentially make those benefits, rights, and privileges available to LGBT Americans.